Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Fatherless Children of France, Jean Roy

To my Godfather and Benefactor
Jean Roy
I spoke about the generosity and selflessness of Charles Harrell Moran in the post God, Others, and Ourselves.  Today's post could be seen as a followup since it is all about a little French boy who was orphaned in World War I and who was "adopted" by Charles Harrell Moran through The Fatherless Children of France organization.  I must admit however my skepticism about the organization and wonder if it was a scam.

Harrell became the child's benefactor for a period of years.  The letters I've found so far span from 1918 - 1921 and include pictures of Jean Roy and his sister Suzanne.  Should I come across more of these letters I will add them into this entry.

Letter One, page 1
Oct 13, 1918 page 1
Epinay sur Orge, 13th October 1918

My dear benefactor,
I am still to young to write you a nice long letter myself to thank you for your great kindness in adopting me as your Godson of War, and for the ten francs you sent me.  I was named after my two grand-fathers, Jean Joel Roy.  My paternal grandparents are dead, but I am happy to have my maternal grandparents still.  I am six years old.  I was born on the eighth of February 1912, at Levallois Perres, near Paris, where my father Benjamin Roy was a school master.  He was killed near Peronne departement of the Lomme, on the 26 September 1914, scarcely two months after the declaration of War.

Letter One, page 2
Oct 13, 1918 page 2
I have a sister four years older than myself, her name is Suzanne.  She lives with my grand parents at Conflans-sur-Seine since she was about a year old.  I am with mamma who is a governess at Epinay-sur-Orge.  I spend my holidays at Conflans with my grandparents who are teachers also, and I am very happy with them and I enjoy myself very much there.  During the last holidays many English, Italian and French soldiers came to the village, but no Americans.  My grandmother had a military costume made for me, with the number of my father's regiment, 17th territorial infantry.  She had my photo taken in it with my sister Suzanne- I am sending it to you.
A mon cher Parrain
Monsieur C.H. Moran
Jean Roy 6ans 1/2
Suzanne Roy 10 ans 1/2

Mamma is going to have another taken as you asked and I shall send it to you.

Letter One, page 3
I don't remember my father, being only two years old when he went away, but his portrait is in mamma's bedroom, and I see it every day.

Oct 13, 1918 page 3
I am learning to read and write with mamma who teacher other little children.  I begin to know a little and I send you a few word in French as a sample of what I can do.  My great uncle Edouard  Ramette was a Minister at Lowell, Massachusetts.  In spite of his age, he belonged to the American Army as Director of "Foyer du Soldat".

My aunt Marguerite who has learnt English will answer your kind letter, and she says she will teach me English when I am older.  I shall then be able to correspond myself

Oct 13, 1918 page 4

Letter One, page 4
with you.

With my mother's and my grandparents' best thanks in which I join, believe me, my dear Godfather your affectionate Godson.

Jean Roy
Cher parrain.  Je vous remercie beaucoup de vos bontes. et je vous embrasse comme je vous aime. 
Jean Roy
Translated:  Dear sponsor. I thank you very much for your kindness. and I embrace you as I love you.

Letter Two
Letter Two page 1
 Original in French
Letter two, dated May 12, 1919,  was written by "Widow Nauguer Marthe" in French. Actually, I'm not sure if this is related to Jean Roy or not because his last name is Roy and this woman's name is not Roy!  Also, in the letter she says her husband died a few days before the birth of his son.  Jean Roy has stated twice that his father died when he was two years old.  Maybe C.H. Moran sponsored two French orphans?  

I don't think C.H. Moran knew French because there is an enclosed translation of the letter done by F.C. EZELL.  The stationery used by F.C. Ezell says Leaf Tobacco, Dresden, Tenn.  I have not yet figured out how this Ezell may be related to the Moran's.  The other interesting thing is that F.C. spells their name EZELL whereas all of the others spell it EZZELL.  So that's another thing to add to my to-do list.  Here is LETTER TWO:
Letter two page 2
Original in French

Translation of Letter Two, page 1 by F.C. Ezell
Montblanc, May 12, 1919

Sir and Dear Benefactor,

Thru your generosity I have just received a second aid of 45 francs and I come to thank you for it as I did for the last contribution.  I hope that you will have received my letter of thanks.

Excuse me if in this interval I have not written to you:  I have been seriously ill and been very busy; for we have been obliged to change our residence.  The proprietors having sold the house in which we were living we are staying at present at Montblanc, 15 kilometers from our former home.

Your little adopted orphan is in splendid health , is growing fast and is very wise.  He speaks often of his protector from America; he would like to know if you have a little boy of his age and that when he is larger he will have learned to read and write and will send him some letters.

Every day he goes to school and he already knows almost all the letter os the alphabet.  Moreover he is very intelligent and learned quickly everything

Translation of Letter Two, page 2 by F.C. Ezell
that is told to him.  He knows his prayers well and says it every day.  What a joy if his poor father had had the happiness of seeing him; it was not to be that, for he was killed six days before my little one came into the world.  This has been very cruel for me for I have been compelled to have only care for my child.

Generous benefactor I have wished to lighten our difficulties and my son and I keep for you an undying gratitude.

Thanking you for your kindness, accept dear Benefactor, my thanks and the expression of my profound gratefulness.

Widow Nouguier Marthe
Montblanc (Herault) France

P.S. In order to be sure that you have received my correspondence I am registering my letter.

Letter Three
Epinay, 22nd December 1919

My dear God-father and Benefactor,

Yesterday I received a letter from the Director of the fatherless children of France in Paris, on which he told me that you are so kind as to continue your assistance for the new year.

I thank you very much and also mother for your generosity.

I will try to deserve your kind offices, and I shall take pains with all my heart at school.

Now, I am in the "high school",. I mean in the 'boys' school", since the month of October and I earned the second place; mother wants me to be the first scholar in my class.

Once again, thank you, my dear Benefactor, may I beg you will kindly accept the assurance of the deep respect of your 

Affectionate God-son,
Jean Roy

Letter Four page 1
Epinay, 6th April 1920

Letter four April 1920
page 1
My dear Godfather and Benefactor,

I want, and mamma also, to thank you for the check which we have received a few days ago, and you may be sure that we never forget all your kindness.

I always study my best at school, and I obtained the first place in the composition of the last month.  

My father was a school-master, and was killed in the beginning of the war (on September 1914), mamma received a letter from my father's Director.  Here is what he says to mamma:  "the Government has sent me a  commemorative medal in the name of Mr. Roy.  This medal is to be placed in Mr. Roy's class, which will bear his name

Letter Four page 2
Letter four April 1920
page 2
in the future.  A ceremony will shortly take place to that purpose and I beg you to be present at that ceremony.  Please, be so kind as to forward me, as soon as possible, a photo of Mr. Roy.  I destine it to a picture in which the medal will be enclosed.  This picture is to be placed in the class."

Mamma has sent him a large portrait of papa, and answered that she will be present at the ceremony, also grandfather, grandmother, aunt Marguerite and I.

I was only a baby two years old when my poor daddy has gone away.  I never saw him again, but in spite of that, I remember him very well.  (It's interesting that Jean Roy remembers him very well in this letter because in the first letter on page three he states "I don't remember my father, being only two years old when he went away".)

We are all happy to see that our Country has kept his memory and will pay the last honor to him, but how we should have preferred he

Letter Four page 3
Letter four April 1920
page 3
comes back near us for ever.

This regret for the loss of me dear daddy brings me, naturaly, to express to you all the gratitude of France for America and I beg you to receive, my dear Godfather and Benefactor, the best regards from 
Your affectionate and grateful Godson,

Jean Roy 8 ans a Epinay-sur-Orge (Seine-etOise) France

Letter Five page 1
Epinay 13th January 1921
Letter five page 1

My dear Godfather and Benefactor,

Mamma has just received today the check of Frs. 45, set in your name by the Director of "The Fatherless Children of France"; we thank you so much, and we take the opportunity to offer you our best wishes for the new year.  I pray God to have you and your family in his safe and holy keeping.

We were present at the "Christmas Tree"; it was a nice feast given by the "Combatants Association".  There were toys, oranges, cakes, clothes, dress for the Fatherless Children of War; also a puppet-show (which is called in French "Guiguol").  The puppets beat on another with

Letter Five page 2
Letter five page 2
sticks; we had a very good time for it was full of fun.

Here is my photo.  I give you it as an affectionate and grateful remembrance from 

Your little Godson,
Jean Roy

Jean Roy

Letter six, page 1
Letter Six Page 1
Epinay, 5th July 1921

My dear Godfather and Benefactor,

First, we want to thank you very much, Mother and I, for the check of 45f, which we have received from the Director of the Fatherless Children of France.

Last Saturday, the match between Dempsey and Carpentier took place at Jersey City; it was exactly a quarter to nine (that is to say: a quarter to four in America) when we knew that Carpentier was knock out as soon as the fourth round.

Letter Six Page 2
Every body was at the windows, or in the streets, to see the aeroplanes throwing up red rockets; in a moment, we saw two white rockets, and we understood that the victorious was Jack Dempsey.
Letter six, page 2

Of course, we should have liked to see Carpentier victorious, but mother said we must remember this; Dempsey is the countryman of the strong soldiers who have come from America, to help us against the "Boches". (Boche was an offensive slang term of the period for Germans, particularly German soldiers of the first and second World Wars)

In that moment we did not complain that the American had the fist too hard.

Now, my dear Godfather, in a month, it is the long vacation; I go at my grand parents' house, and I intend to have a very good time, like every year.

Letter Six Page 3
Before enclosing my letter, I send my dear Godfather and Benefactor, also Mamma, our best thoughts and gratitude.

Your affectionate Godson,
Jean Roy

Added April 5, 2014

I want to thank Ms. Hillary Kaell for supplying the following translation for the letter dated February 4, 1919.  It seems very possible that the letters from Nouguier Marthe are not related to those of Jean Roy and that Uncle Brud was sponsoring two children.

page 1
Widow Nouguier Feb 4 1919
Lezignan-la-cebe 4 February 1919
Dear and generous benefactor,

It was only yesterday the 3 February, that I had the honour of receiving the name and address of the generous Benefactor who has deigned to interest himself in the fate of an unhappy widow and her war-orphan son.

My child is still too youn so it falls to me the task of sending you my thanks and of expressing to you my deepest gratitude

page 2
Be assured, dear and generous Benefactor, that the help that I will receive will be consecrated (earmarked/used) for the education of my child, so that later, if God preserves him for me, he will become a man worthy to present himself in society.

I am always at your disposal to give you all the information that it pleases you to ask me.

Be assured, dear and generous Benefactor, of my profound respect and my sincere gratitude.  For my son Nouguier Dieudonne. 1
The mother, widow Nouguier Marthe
Lezignan-la-cebe (Herault)

Widow Nouguier Feb 4 1919

This letter I came across after posting the blog in June 2012.
page 1
Oct 12 1921, Page 1, Jean Roy
Epinay, 12th October 1921
My dear Godfather and Benefactor,

I want to thank you, also Mamma, for the check of 45f which I received, in your name, from the Director of the Fatherless Children of France.

I am writing to you near an open window, because it is fine weath to-day, like in summer.  So, I have a little regret to be at school: the re-opening was Saturday, 4th of October, instead of Monday; was it not stupid?

Alas, I have done all my tasks, that our school master had given to the pupils for the long vacation, he thought I am in advance, and placed me, for 3 years, with the big boys, twelve and thirteen, in spite of I am only nine.

Before returning to Epinay, Grannie took me to the Theatre "Chatelet", in Paris, to see "The voyage round the World in eighty days" a nice fairy-scene for children.

Oct 12 1921, page 2, Jean Roy
page 2
It is too long, my dear Godfather, to tell you that story in full.  I remember, amongst the various incidents of the play, that an English gentleman, Mr. Phileas Fogg has laid, in a club, a bet of one million francs to do the voyage round the world in eighty days.  He took his man-servant, surnamed "Pass-partout" (that is to say; pass every where).

I saw them in India, travelling on an elephant, also in a serpent's cavern; they were saved by Hindoo priestess.  Themselves saved (always in India) young Princess Aouda's life; she was to be burnt, in great pomp and ceremony in the Temple, because her husband had just died.  Upon this occasion, there were two splendid ballets.  Then, when she was deliverd, Princess Aouda wanted to follow Mr. Fogg, to shun Hindoo priests.

After that, they went in America, and their train was attacked by the Red men; it was terrible; the battle began, and put everything to fire.

Mr. Phileas Fogg and "Passe-partout" were victori0us, and all Red-men killed.

Near me, a little girl was afraid and cried; I reassured her as well as I could.

Oct 12 1921, page 3, Jean Roy
page 3
At last, our two travellers returned to London by steamer "Henrietta", which Mr. Fogg bought to the Captain, because this one had a mind to go in England after a long way round, and Mr. Fogg was in a hurry: only a few days before the date, fixed for the eighty days.  Nor more coal, and Liverpool was within sight.  Mr. Fogg did not hesitate, he left "Henrietta', also "Pase-partout" and Mrs. Aouda, taking only their money in a bag, they swam to Liverpool, and reached the city in safe.

So, they took the train for London at nine in the evening, on the appointed day, Mr. Fogg entered in the club; he had gained his bet.

To end this story, Mr. Fogg married Princess Aouda, and "Passe-partout", Mrs. Aouda's maid-So that not nice!

I notice that I am chattering long; please, excuse me, my dear Godfather, and before enclosing my letter, let me send you all my best thoughts and gratitude.

Your affectionate Godson
Jean Roy.


  1. Hi Mary, I'm a researcher at Princeton University and just came across your site. What a treasure trove! I'd like to ask you a couple questions about the Fatherless Children of France documents. Could you respond to me at hkaell AT princeton.edu ? Thank you!

    1. Just wanted you to know I sent you an email a few days ago. I haven't heard from you and thought it might have gone to your spam folder.